BRUSSELS — It doesn't actually matter whether Donald Trump just described Germany as "bad" or "evil." Either way, it gives us the opportunity to return the insult.
With respect, Mr President: Sir, you are an idiot.
It is above all the stupidity that is so offensive in the absurd mixture of insinuation and ill will with which Trump is attacking the German export and automobile industries. Does Trump really want to start a trade war with the European Union? Be my guest, Mr President. This nonsense will come to an abrupt end when punitive European tariffs are imposed on the products of a large U.S. computer company, if not before.
A summit meeting is not a remedial class
For Angela Merkel and her colleagues, the meeting in Taormina was a real test of patience. As the longest-serving participant, it fell primarily to the German chancellor to rein in the Trump bull as it crashed around the china shop of international politics.
This she did with the infinite forbearance of a kindergarten teacher bending over an obstinate child with learning difficulties. The US president refuses, for example, to see that climate change is a serious threat and the Paris Agreement a necessity.
The other six countries in the group explained it to Trump in detail. Afterwards, his adviser extolled the fact that Trump had learned a lot in Taormina. Treating the summit meeting of the most important industrial countries as a remedial class for a clueless and disinterested property mogul is a piece of insolence. And only one of many, looking at the way Trump behaves towards his international partners. Unfortunately the man also happens to be the US president, so they are not able to show any irritation.
G7 saved – for now
The saying goes that stupidity always wins. And the instance of Trump's boorish, egocentric, aggressive European tour in his role of bully-in-chief, it actually seems to be true. To the grown-ups in the room, the man is a provocation. However, they did assert themselves and save the G7 club for the time being, until the next meeting, at least.
Diplomats know how important "formats" like these are – ritual, regular meetings, with a glossy atmosphere and pretty pictures. The meetings are political showbiz, and they also force the heads of government to be disciplined. The members must repeatedly reaffirm all the things the group has in common, or else take the decision to leave it. Even the capricious US president recoiled from taking this ultimate step, though. Someone must have used one of Trump's brief moments of attentiveness to make clear to him that "America first" leads to the isolation of "America alone." And that it would be premature to demolish the Western alliance of states out of ill humor and lack of interest.
Minimal consensus instead of progress
Enough has been said about Trump's sociopathic traits, his lack of intellect, upbringing, knowledge, propriety, and everything else that characterizes the man. His appearances with the EU in Brussels, with NATO, and at the G7 summit merely confirmed what we have long known about him.
The US president mistakes migration for terrorism, believes climate change is a conspiracy, damages the NATO defense alliance and insults other countries' heads of government. In the end, he prevented the meeting from achieving any substantial results, let alone progress. He gives the impression that he thinks its fun to lead his G7 partners in a merry dance.
Former President Lyndon Johnson famously made a crudely concise comment (directed at longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, no less) that it's better to have your opponent "inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in." The bad news is that Donald Trump is pissing inside the tent as well. This stinks - literally - but we'll have to put up with it for now. Until the voters or the American political system deliver us from this president. We will wait for better times and try to keep things going as best we can till then.
By Barbara Wesel - Brussels correspondent/ Germany's public international broadcaster-DW